Dubai: UAE residents are still consuming more natural resources than anybody else on earth, ahead of the United States and Kuwait, according to the WWF Living Planet 2008 report which came out on Thursday and is based on statistics gathered in 2005.

The 2008 report shows the UAE's per capita footprint was found to be 9.5 global hectares. Its overall demand on global resources in 2005 was less than half of one per cent. However only 2.1 global hectares were available per person.

Director of Environment Department Hamdan Al Shaer at Dubai Municipality said the report has good and bad aspects. "There has been a lot of change in the calculations and reviewing of the data so we cannot just look at the number [rank] and see that it is high and say we are not doing well," he said.

"We have a high demand on natural resources and the report reflects this. Our ecological footprint is 80 percent from fossil fuels for power and transport," he told Gulf News.

In the last report issued in 2006 collated from 2003 statistics, the UAE was already ranked as having the highest ecological footprint per capita. As a country it ranked 54th.

No specific targets

The report shows that 10 nations were demanding half of the planet's resources in 2005 with the United States of America and China accounting for the consumption of 42 per cent of the planet's natural resources.

"We haven't set specific targets to reach for the next three years but we will work collectively to initiate policies and minimise the footprint," said Al Shaer. He added that renewable energies and recycling initiatives have already been implemented for construction waste, lube, fat, oil and grease from restaurants and vehicles as well as tyres that will be operational next year.

"People are dependent on a pattern of consumption and it has to be changed in the future. Initiatives for other fuels like solar power, biofuel and natural gas are coming up. The metro is also an alternative but we have to make people use it," he said.

"It is a waste to say that we can achieve a drastic reduction in consumption if the population keeps increasing, unless there are policies to minimise the dependence of fossil fuels. Without strong policies it [a better ranking] won't happen for ten years probably," said Al Shaer. "I'm very optimistic," he added.

The UAE is only one of three countries examining its ecological footprint, through the Al Basama Al Beeiya (Ecological Footprint) Initiative in 2007.

Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment and Water said in a statement, "Reducing our footprint will not only depend on the effective implementation of these initiatives but will also require additional actions. This will require time and a coordinated effort."